Refractory epilepsy

Child Neurology specialises in difficult-to-treat childhood and adolescent epilepsy, consulting services, and the surgical treatment of epilepsy in children in cooperation with HUH Neurosurgery and the Neurology Clinic.

When is the procedure indicated?

As a child’s nervous system develops, the regulation of electrical activity in the brain changes, and children therefore have a greater risk than adults of experiencing a one-off epileptic seizure. Seizures are some of the most common neurological symptoms experienced during childhood. Almost one in every ten children will have one epileptic seizure before reaching adulthood. Most are triggered by an external factor, such as a fever, and there is no cause to suspect epilepsy.

About 0.3–0.7 per cent of children have a tendency to experience recurring epileptic seizures that are not triggered by external factors – they suffer from epilepsy. Childhood onset epilepsy is not a single disease, but a combination of different epilepsies with varying causes, symptoms, degrees of difficulty, and prognoses. Untreated epilepsy may hinder a child’s motor, intellectual, and social development. Medication is the primary form of treatment for epilepsy. Thanks to the effective medication currently available, the majority of epilepsy sufferers have achieved a good treatment balance without any significant side effects. However, the seizures of some child patients continue in spite of appropriate medication, and the benefits of surgery will then be assessed.

The pros and cons of epilepsy treatment

Epilepsy treatment for children seeks to prevent seizures or achieve the best possible balance, to minimise the side effects of treatment, to maintain learning ability, to safeguard cognitive and neurological development, and to ensure that the entire family can cope with the disease and lead a full life.

Modern treatment methods are able to prevent seizures in the majority of childhood epilepsy sufferers. For those children who experience seizures in spite of medication, epilepsy may have a significant impact on their growth and development. This is why the early diagnosis of epilepsy, effective medical treatment, accepting epilepsy as one of the child’s characteristics, and supporting normal development are all important aspects of treatment.

There are a wide range of epilepsy medicines with different active mechanisms, and the correct medication is always chosen on a case-by-case basis. More difficult types of epilepsy are treated surgically.

Duration of the examination

The most precise diagnosis possible is the cornerstone of good epilepsy treatment. An epilepsy diagnosis is primarily based on a description of seizure symptoms.  A neurological examination and EEG (electroencephalogram) is performed on all children with suspected epilepsy. Many also receive an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

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